by Christopher Harding
Published by Allen Lane
As Japan celebrates 150 years since the Emperor Meiji entered his new capital – ‘Tokyo’ – in the autumn of 1868, Christopher Harding explores the modern nation’s extraordinary powers of radical reinvention, then and since. Japan Story looks too at a surprisingly wide range of people who were opposed to what they thought that Japanese modernity was becoming, at various points across this long and eventful period. Their lives and activism – from protest painting to mental health, citizens’ groups to anime and the avant-garde – make up a still under-appreciated modern Japanese tradition of resisting mainstream visions of the country’s identity and future.
In the 1850s and 1860s, that identity was crafted by a clique of rebel samurai, set upon building a modernized nation under a restored Emperor. After World War Two, it was the work of an American Occupation and then an ‘iron triangle’ of elite politicians, government bureaucrats and big business – reinventing Japan as an economic superpower in time for the 1964 Tokyo Olympics. Today, in the wake of 2011’s triple catastrophe of earthquake, tsunami and nuclear incident, and as Japan prepares to host the 2020 Olympics, Harding asks whether a third great transformation may be on the way and whose vision for the country will win out.
Japan Story: In Search of a Nation, 1850 to the Present was on sale for £25.00
About the contributors
Dr Christopher Harding
Dr Christopher Harding is a cultural historian of modern Japan and India, specializing in religion/spirituality, philosophy, and mental health. After completing undergraduate and postgraduate studies at the University of Oxford, he went to Japan on a Daiwa Scholarship from 2004 to 2006. Following his return to the UK, he took up a post at the University of Edinburgh, where he is now Senior Lecturer in Asian History. Christopher writes for a range of newspapers and magazines, alongside work as a presenter and documentary maker for BBC Radio 3 and 4. His Japan programmes include Archive on 4: Misunderstanding Japan, Depression in Japan (the first in a five-part series on culture and mental health, entitled The Borders of Sanity), The Music of Time: Japan, and Supernatural Japan. He recently presented a series of The Essay for BBC Radio 3, exploring undercurrents of resistance and distress in Japan’s modern experience. His cultural history of modern Japan, Japan Story: In Search of a Nation, 1850 to the Present is published by Allen Lane on 1 November 2018.